Bright Beginnings for the School Year

Posted on: August 29, 2019

On August 21 and 22, 104 local children participated in the Northern Neck Family YMCA’s Bright Beginnings back to school shopping program. This community outreach program provides children in need with the new clothes and school supplies necessary to start the school year with confidence and excitement.

Each child was paired with a volunteer “shopping buddy” to help them pick out their new wardrobe. The volunteers got help as well, a personalized size and shopping list from the child’s guardian to help steer buying decisions. Every Bright Beginnings team then had 60 minutes to navigate the aisles of the Kilmarnock Walmart to maximize their budget.

55 volunteers shared their time to help nurture these children. Chesapeake Bank had 15 employees participate, as well as supplying the program with school supplies and financial contributions. Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury supplied five volunteers, and Sheriff Patrick McCranie brought together 12 volunteers from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Department, the Northumberland Sheriff’s Department, the State Police, as well as several of their family members to help. A group of YMCA board members, parents, teenagers, and YMCA staff also offered their support.

Each participating child and an additional 10 children received a new backpack filled with school supplies. In addition to their bundle of shoes and clothing, everyone, including the volunteers, was wearing a smile when they exited the store.

Since 2005, the Northern Neck Family YMCA Bright Beginnings program has helped more than 1,100 local children prepare to start the new school year ready to learn. The eligible children are identified through partnering agencies. The program is supported by individuals, organizations, and corporations.

“Unfortunately, many children in our community don’t have adequate clothes or school supplies,” said operations director, Liz Allen. “Through Bright Beginnings, our volunteers, community businesses, and funds from the YMCA’s Annual Giving Campaign, we helped over 100 children look forward to their first day of school.”

For more information about the Bright Beginnings program or other YMCA scholarship and enrichment programs, contact the Northern Neck Family YMCA at 804-435-0223 or email Liz Allen.

Group of volunteers at Northern Neck's Bright Beginning shopping trip with children.

Top Left Group – Left to Right: Teen Volunteers: Ria Geier, Morgan Vermeer, Ella Posey, Evie Allen, and Olivia Saunders. Top Right Group – Left to Right: Chesapeake Bank Volunteers: Stacey Akers, Tracey Elliott, Sherri Clowser, Melissa Norris, Anne Cotter, Allie Ward, and Kathy Jarvis. Bottom Left Group – Left to Right: Bill Webb, Patrick McCranie, Bill Farrell, and J. B. Thompson. Bottom Right Individual Photos – Left to Right: YMCA Board Members Joanna Marchetti, Margie Redlin, and Lauren Ambrose from Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury.

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